Fatwa: # 17336
Category: Jurisprudence and Rulings...
Country: South Africa
Date: 19th November 2008


Stunning Chickens


Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Ifta   

Dear Mufti Saab,

I read a fatwa on stunning  issued by one of your students Ml.Ehzaz Ajmeri, and endorsed by you. In the fatwa it is mentioned : "special care should be taken that the voltage of the stunner is not set too high as this leads to the death of the animal  before slaughtering it.Also , the people inspecting the animals should be trained to identify a dead animal from the line so it may be removed from being slaughtered."

I am surprised and shocked by this statement. You have in fact approved the cruel act of stunning the animal before slaughtering although inflicting any injury before slaughtering is not permissible. Hazrat Umar had whipped a man whi was only sharpening his knife in front of a goat, but you approve of stunning , hence you speak of setting the voltage. You furthermore advise training courses for men to become experts at identifying dead chickens on the conveyor line. Injuring an animal before slaughtering it is a rare exception such as sa bull gone mad or wild and running away. But your advice implies acceptance of a cruel  system which islam does not allow. Why should men be trained to identify 'dead' animals when there can be no dead animals in an islamic slaughter system . You are a mufti who is supposed to uphold the shariat, not condone the cruel barbaric ways of the kuffaar.

Your fatwa is self-contradictory. In the same fatwa you said that stunning is 'cruelty' then in almost the same breath you offer advise on how to manipulate the stunner. I think that neither your student nor you had applied your minds to the reality of the cruel slaughtering system in the broiler-chickens plants. You had answered the question without taking to account the backdrop of the cruelty taking place in the chicken plants where tens of millions of defenceless birds are horrifically put to death. I think a mufti should be far sighted  and not
blurt out anything nor speak with a forked tongue nor sit on the fence. To me it appears your fatwa is meant to woo both camps--those who condone and those who are opposed to it.

The question of the animals, viz. the 'poor' chickens, being 'wild'  and 'difficult to slaughter' simply does apply in our context. The question was not asked in relation to perhaps a bull gone mad or a bull running wild in the camperdown madrassah. Another fact which you have overlooked is that if a bull goes mad and bolts, there is no question of getting the stunner to him and coolly shocking him. The electrical stunner is used on chickens and animals that are ALL under control -- shackeled , tied and encased as bulls are in a metal box, then dropped over. I don't understand how You imagined stunning a wild uncontrollable animal. Such an animal will have to be shot, tranquillized, etc., but definately cannot be held by its horns and brought to the stunner.

I hope that mufti saab will reconsider the fatwa. In my opinion you should have simply said that stunning is haraam.





This answer is in general context and not specific to any processing plant.

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

 Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh


At the outset, we wish to point out that there is no need for us to woo anyone in issuing a fatwa. We are driven by our consciousness in Allāh and Shari’a. To woo anyone while issuing a fatwa is using the Shari’a for self respect which is khiyānat and not permissible. Allāh protect us from using His Shari’a to suit our nafs and desires. Allāh knows the condition of the hearts. We make du’ā that Allāh grant us Ikhlās to present Dīn with sincerity and honesty, Amīn.

Hereunder is our considered opinion regarding of chickens only.

Stunning is indeed cruelty to animals and hence not permissible. It inflicts pain to the chickens. Dr. Schalz and Dr.  Hazim of the Veterinary School in Hannover, Germany conducted a comparative study between traditional slaughter and conventional slaughter and recorded the EEG (electro encephalograph) and ECG (electro cardiograph) of both methods of slaughter and concluded that in the conventional method the EEG and ECG recorded immense pain in the brain of the animal. In stark contrast to the conventional method, the EEG and ECG of the traditional method recorded no pain upon incision. Thereafter upon 3 seconds of the incision, the EEG and ECG recorded the animal to be in deep sleep and unconscious with no record of pain in the brain. Upon 6 seconds of the incision, the EEG and ECG recorded zero.

In the view of the above, it becomes more clear that stunning is a cruelty to chickens. Nobody can deny that. We should endeavor to change the system. The stunned chickens are the creation of Allāh and deserve our kindness in dealing with them. We will be held accountable in the court of Allāh for oppressing these poor chickens. Supporting an oppressive system is party to the oppression. Alhamdulillāh in UK, stunned-free slaughtered chickens are available. We too should make an effort to produce such a system.

The other issue is the Shari’a position of the slaughtered chickens through the stunning procedure. If the chicken is alive after being stunned and slaughtered, one cannot regard the slaughtered animal to be harām, in spite of the impermissible practice of stunning.

While we do condemn the practice of stunning, from a practical point of view, we are aware that many Muslims do consume such chickens. We should discourage people from supporting the oppressive system and also do whatever is possible within our means to save those that incorrectly support the system from eating harām. It is in that regard, we advised that the voltage of the stunner should be controlled. This should not be interpreted as our approval of the oppressive system. It is mere damage control method from consuming harām.

Merely condemning a procedure is not sufficient; we should exert our energies in creating a practical stunning-free alternative facility for the Muslim public. We live in a society where people expect the ‘Ulamā to do everything; declare something halāl and harām and also create the alternative.

It is sincere people like you who could now use your energies to create the alternative. Then there would be no need for the public to enquire about the stunning system.

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Wassalamu Alaykum

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa 

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